Neurons and Neural Networks – Ole Kiehn group

Research in the laboratory is directed to understand mechanisms by which neurons and neural networks operate to generate complex brain function.

Gait patterns in mice

Research focus

Mammalian Locomotor Laboratory

Research in the laboratory is directed to understand mechanisms by which neurons and neural networks operate to generate complex brain function. We use the rodent as a model system to study the molecular, cellular and network organization of spinal locomotor circuitries, their development and central control in mammals. We apply a broad technical approach that combines electrophysiology and anatomy with molecular mouse genetics, optogenetics and behavioral analyses.

We have deciphered the functional organization of spinal circuitries necessary for producing changes in timing and coordination of locomotion, and delineated brainstem circuits involved in gating or context-dependent selection of motor behaviors.

The lab is also engaged in characterizing plasticity in spinal networks and motor neurons following lesions of the cord and to devise targeted manipulation of these changes to alleviate dysfunctional motor symptoms following spinal cord injury.

Group members

Group members - Kiehn laboratory

Selected publications

Pedunculopontine Chx10+ neurons control global motor arrest in mice.
Goñi-Erro H, Selvan R, Caggiano V, Leiras R, Kiehn O
Nat Neurosci 2023 Sep;26(9):1516-1528

Deconstructing the modular organization and real-time dynamics of mammalian spinal locomotor networks.
Hsu LJ, Bertho M, Kiehn O
Nat Commun 2023 Feb;14(1):873

Targeted activation of midbrain neurons restores locomotor function in mouse models of parkinsonism.
Masini D, Kiehn O
Nat Commun 2022 Jan;13(1):504

Brainstem neurons that command mammalian locomotor asymmetries.
Cregg JM, Leiras R, Montalant A, Wanken P, Wickersham IR, Kiehn O
Nat Neurosci 2020 06;23(6):730-740

Early delivery and prolonged treatment with nimodipine prevents the development of spasticity after spinal cord injury in mice.
Marcantoni M, Fuchs A, Löw P, Bartsch D, Kiehn O, Bellardita C
Sci Transl Med 2020 04;12(539):

Midbrain circuits that set locomotor speed and gait selection.
Caggiano V, Leiras R, Goñi-Erro H, Masini D, Bellardita C, Bouvier J, Caldeira V, Fisone G, Kiehn O
Nature 2018 01;553(7689):455-460

Decoding the organization of spinal circuits that control locomotion.
Kiehn O
Nat Rev Neurosci 2016 Apr;17(4):224-38

Descending Command Neurons in the Brainstem that Halt Locomotion.
Bouvier J, Caggiano V, Leiras R, Caldeira V, Bellardita C, Balueva K, Fuchs A, Kiehn O
Cell 2015 Nov;163(5):1191-1203

Locomotor rhythm generation linked to the output of spinal shox2 excitatory interneurons.
Dougherty KJ, Zagoraiou L, Satoh D, Rozani I, Doobar S, Arber S, Jessell TM, Kiehn O
Neuron 2013 Nov;80(4):920-33

Dual-mode operation of neuronal networks involved in left-right alternation.
Talpalar AE, Bouvier J, Borgius L, Fortin G, Pierani A, Kiehn O
Nature 2013 Aug;500(7460):85-8

Optogenetic dissection reveals multiple rhythmogenic modules underlying locomotion.
Hägglund M, Dougherty KJ, Borgius L, Itohara S, Iwasato T, Kiehn O
Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 2013 Jul;110(28):11589-94

Identification of minimal neuronal networks involved in flexor-extensor alternation in the mammalian spinal cord.
Talpalar AE, Endo T, Löw P, Borgius L, Hägglund M, Dougherty KJ, Ryge J, Hnasko TS, Kiehn O
Neuron 2011 Sep;71(6):1071-84

Activation of groups of excitatory neurons in the mammalian spinal cord or hindbrain evokes locomotion.
Hägglund M, Borgius L, Dougherty KJ, Kiehn O
Nat Neurosci 2010 Feb;13(2):246-52


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Ole Kiehn


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